Now more than ever, transgender and gender nonconforming folks are starting to come to the forefront, sharing their stories and explaining the issues they face to allies and the rest of the queer community. But some of the most important allies to the trans community are the doctors who are willing to devote their lives to new fields of medicine in order to support trans folks. Denver Health’s LGBT Center of Excellence is full of those doctors.
“We were created in January 2017 to provide a decentralized care model, so queer folks can get service at nine community clinics or the main hospital, no matter how they identify,” explained Kari Kuka, M.S., administrative director for the Center of Excellence. “Patients can come in for primary care, HIV care, gender confirmation surgery care, any service really. We have trained all 7,000 staff members to help them.”
The Center of Excellence strives to be “open, welcoming, and affirming” for all, whether they are treating folks with HIV or behavioral health issues or providing specialized care to trans or gender nonconforming people. While the entire hospital looks to help everyone, regardless of orientation, the Center of Excellence realized the need for specialized care within the LGBTQ community.
“I think there are a lot of organizations out there that say they care, but they aren’t actively saying they want to care for this community and our population. So, having the Center of Excellence is a way for patients to know we are actively training staff,” Kuka added. “We want to care for the patient population and be the leaders in this field.”
In addition to general care for those who aren’t comfortable seeking help anywhere else, the Center of Excellence also provides special services for trans folks, which are hard to find elsewhere. The doctors trained by the program offer hard-to-find procedures like vaginoplasty, voice therapy, and tracheal shades. They also strive to include facial feminization soon.
Thanks to all of these innovations, the Center of Excellence was granted an Ally Award by the One Colorado Education Fund. These annual awards honoring those who help the queer community will be presented on August 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver.
“We celebrate the work of allies because of their tremendous ability to change hearts and minds of fair-minded Coloradans—and because their courage is an incredible asset to One Colorado’s work,” the Ally Awards’ web page explains.
The Center of Excellence is honored to be awarded for their contributions to the queer community.
“We are so excited that we have always been a staple for Denver County,” Kuka said. “We are already the safety net hospital for Denver, but to be the providers for patients all over the state to get care and be recognized as a leader is a true honor. It lets us know that our patients are having good experiences, because they are coming back and sharing with others in the community, so that’s really our goal. We want to continue the best quality possible for our patients.”
The Center of Excellence is making a huge difference for the LGBTQ community, and the Ally Awards are welcoming this difference. Those interested in receiving patient services should contact the Center of Excellence, and tickets to the Ally Awards are still available for those who would like to attend.